A 144-page action plan released over the Thanksgiving holiday by the City of Palo Alto -- outlining ways to cut the community's greenhouse-gas emissiona -- was greeted warmly by the City Council Monday night.
A vote on the plan is scheduled for next Monday.
The Climate Protection Plan builds on the voluminous recommendations of the community-based Green Ribbon Task Force on Climate Protection, but adds emission data and some cost-of-reduction estimates, according to Sustainability Team member Karl Van Orsdol.
City residents and businesses currently release about 814,254 metric tons of carbon dioxide, a top greenhouse gas, per year, the report states. It aims for a 5 percent reduction by 2012.
Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of storms, raise the sea level of the San Francisco Bay, make hydropower -- one of Palo Alto's top energy sources -- less reliable and increase the risk of wildfires, among its other worldwide impacts, according to the report.
At its Monday meeting, the City Council lauded the document, which was produced by the city's four-member, temporary Sustainability Team.
"It's sort of strange to say, but I enjoyed reading it," Vice Mayor Larry Klein said.
"You've definitely been on the bleeding edge in terms of pushing us to look at the … total impact of the city of Palo Alto," Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto said.
The plan proposes beginning with internal city improvements, such as instituting an environmental purchasing plan, regulating its vehicle usage, inducing employees to commute to work via alternative transportation or carpools, and using 100 percent recycled paper.
Those short-term goals could be implemented by 2009. They are expected to cost little and could save 3,266 metric tons of emissions, the report states.
By 2020, the city and community should reduce emissions by 15 percent of 2005 levels, the report states.
The report estimates that each Palo Altan produces 14 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, higher than the California average of 11 but lower than the national average of 23 metric tons, primarily due to the diversity of the city's energy sources, city staff members said.
Transportation, including commuting and air travel, produces 40 percent of city's emissions, followed by natural and electricity use, accounting for 19 percent. Solid waste is the third contributor, producing 14 percent of the community's emissions, according to the report.
The report aims to exceed traditional greenhouse gas inventory methods, staff members stated.
For example, they accounted for products used in Palo Alto but made elsewhere and the emission-generation from throwing away potential recyclables in the landfill.
It recommends boosting participation in the electricity program Palo Alto Green to 5 percent of the entire load, up from the current 3 percent, and expanding the program to include natural gas.
The report outlines numerous other recommendations, and is expected to be reviewed regularly, members of the Sustainability Team said.
The council is expected to vote on the proposal next Monday.